What is the Health and Safety Executive?

What is the Health and Safety Executive?

What is the Health and Safety Executive?


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) serves as Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. Established in 1974, its primary mission is to prevent work-related death, injury, and ill health. The HSE encourages compliance with health and safety regulations across various industries and enforces standards to protect workers from hazards. Additionally, it conducts research to identify occupational risks and develops evidence-based policies.

Key Objectives

Innovation and Research – The HSE can support research on developing risks and create new approaches to health and safety practice. This can also be achieved using new technologies, which the HSE are at the forefront of.

Promoting Health and Safety Culture – Making resources available to businesses to improve their health and safety practices, as well and campaigns and training, is one of the main ways the HSE aims to improve health and safety standards.

Secure Health and Safety Standards – The HSE have the ability to introduce new regulation and lobby for legislation regarding workplace health and safety, as well as providing support to businesses with the aim of helping them both comply and understand safety standards.

Prevent Death and Injury – The HSE will regularly check that businesses are compliant with all health and safety regulation in the UK, while also identifying risks in the workplace to prevent illness, injury and even death.

Enhance their own Effectiveness – The HSE ensure that their own internal training is administered to all staff, putting them in a better position to carry out their jobs effectively. They are also then able to optimise their operations to be as efficient as possible.

The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974)

The Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 is a piece of legislation outlining acceptable safety standards for employers within their workplace. The act makes it an employer’s responsibility to provide their workers with a safe workplace that has not and will not cause them any physical harm or interfere with their health in the future. These regulations extend to anyone who is carrying out work or visiting the same premises, be that temporary workers, casual workers, self-employed workers, visitors and even the general public.

The Act also enforces safety standards in a workplace. These can include regular risk assessments, whereby health and safety consultants come and identify potential risks in a particular workplace. These findings are then expected to be remedied to the extent deemed necessary. The level of risk each of these findings present can vary, with some being advisable risks, while others present imminent dangers and command immediate attention. Penalties can be issued by the HSE for failure to comply with the regulations outline within it, and these will be largely based on the extent to which they have breached regulation.

Why is the HSE important to UK businesses?

Business can benefit from the work the HSE carries out in several ways. First and foremost, you create a safer environment for both workers and visitors or customers. This helps boost confidence in the business from the inside and outside, potentially securing more opportunities for the business, through the ability to employ as well as confident and happy customers.

The work done by the HSE also reduces a business’ risk exposure by keeping them and their employees safer. An injury sustained by a customer or member of staff as a result of poor health and safety practices can be very expensive should a legal case arise from it. For example, in this instance, appropriate health and safety training acts as a vital pilar of the risk management process. The inspections done by the HSE often give workplaces a chance to correct the issue before facing any financial punishment.

HSE enforcement powers

While the Health and Safety Executive’s emphasis is on prevention, they do have the ability to administer penalties where necessary. They take enforcement action to deal with serious risks, with the aim of preventing harm to individuals and groups. They do this to hold workplaces to account, especially if it becomes evident that they are doing little to fix the safety issues presented previously. The HSE do give a right of appeal to anyone who faces action from them, with the process differing based on the kind of offence.

How do HSE provide guidance to businesses?

The Health and Safety Executive can provide resources aiming to help businesses reduce their risk profile in the workplace. This can include documents explaining how to promote safer practices. There are plenty of online resources made available by the HSE to businesses, as well as an advisory service including a helpline to ask questions regarding health and safety practices. They organise training sessions, workshops and seminars to educate businesses on a multitude of issues and the regulations and practices involved.

What risk management controls should your business have?

Regular audits can be performed to aid in acquiring insurance, which is a vital form of risk management. Combining these audits with regular training and education for workers will help to reduce the likelihood of any health and safety incidents occurring in the workplace. Risk assessments to identify potential hazards alongside job safety analysis will accomplish the same.

Using personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, helmets and eye protection can prove effective in preventing incidents in industries where such threats can present themselves. Using these, alongside regular maintenance services and labelling and signage, can help cultivate a safer working environment for staff and any visitors. Being prepared for emergencies in these environments. Health assessments can be beneficial for employees who are potentially exposed to hazardous substances in the workplace.

Maintaining a clean and orderly workplace is a key pillar of maintaining a safe working environment for staff and visitors. First Aid training is vital for staff, especially those working with exposure to hazardous materials or substances.

All of these controls can contribute to a safer workplace environment, reducing health and safety exposures. Combining these methods with insurance such as employers liability insurance  and public liability insurance will be the cornerstone of a strong risk management profile for a business.


About the author

Ryan Nevin is an Account Broker at Get Indemnity™ - he is an ambitious professional who is currently studying towards being a Chartered Insurance Broker.